The Taliban’s takeover of the Afghan government was the largest international weapons transfer in 50 years.
In recent days a number of social media users have been sharing an article that claims that the Taliban received the largest international weapons transfer in 50 years when it took over Afghanistan.
One of the most prominent people to have shared this article and claim is Senator Joni Ernst. Her post alone has received hundreds of interactions within 72 hours.
MENA: Misbar’s investigation found that it is incorrect to state that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was the biggest international transfer of arms in 50 years, due to the difficulty in assessing the value of the weapons that were in Afghanistan.
A number of sources have placed different values upon the weapons that the Taliban have inherited. The Washington Post estimated that the U.S. has provided Afghanistan with $24 billion in military equipment over 20 years. This figure does not take into account that a significant amount of this equipment would not still be in use by the year 2021. Director John Pike of Globalsecurity.org estimated that the remaining military equipment at the time of the takeover was worth $10 billion.
In 2021, the UAE purchased $23 billion of U.S. military equipment. If the total cost of the military equipment sent to Afghanistan did cost $24 billion, as The Washington Post estimated, and even if just $1.1 billion of this military equipment had expired over the course of 20 years, then the Taliban wouldn’t have taken over the largest amount of internationally traded arms in 50 years.
Additionally, the claim relies upon treating the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and its military equipment as an international arms transfer, which is difficult logic. TAs the Afghan government-owned that equipment when the Taliban came to power, it was a domestic arms transfer. And if one group taking power of a country and its military equipment can be considered an international arms transfer, then other governmental takeovers across the world would almost definitely represent higher arms transfers than the one in Afghanistan. For instance, in 2017, there was a coup within the Saudi Arabian royal family. USA Today states that from 2008 to 20018, Saudi Arabia imported $13.72 billion in arms from the U.S.. And this is just one change in government in one country within the last 50 years, highlighting just how impossible the National Review’s claim is to prove.